How Canberra Pathologists Handled Demand for COVID Testing in ACT 2021 Outbreak | The Canberra Times


On the morning of August 12, rumors began to spread throughout Canberra that the city had registered its first COVID-19 case in over a year and that a lockdown was imminent. As most people prepared to bunker and move their workplaces to their homes, health workers braced for the approaching storm. Test centers were about to be inundated with demand as thousands of Canberrans were identified as close contacts. In the first week of the outbreak, there were an average of about 6,700 tests daily. On August 19, the largest testing day, 8,800 tests were conducted at ACT government and private testing sites. People reported waiting in line for up to 10 hours to have their nostrils swabbed. Capital Pathology went from conducting about 300 tests a week to running nearly 5000 in one day during the first week of Canberra’s lockdown. It was a brief turnaround for the company, which had to drastically increase its capacity overnight. “We heard rumors on Thursday that something was going on in Canberra and they were about to announce a positive case,” said Chris Ward, customer service manager for Capital Pathology. “And then we got together as a management group that afternoon and tried to figure out what our plan of attack was. Prime Minister Barr came out and announced the lockdown and we knew the next few days were going to be huge.” “Staff across the company were redeployed to help set up test sites and conduct testing. Jason Gluch, CEO of Capital Pathology, said pre-registration for COVID-19 testing has really eased the process.” the crucial things for us to be able to “step up, which has been a problem in many labs in Australia, is the paperwork and data entry in the beginning,” said Dr. cheers. “We had developed a pre-registration process where the patients could either enter all their details either the night before or while waiting in line. “That just gave them a really good workflow and it freed up a lot of our administrative front.” day alone, 10 employees performed 1,800 tests at Gold Creek Primary School’s pop-up center. During the outbreak, eight employees were processing the results in the company’s lab, but the average turnaround time for tests was 12 hours. also helped out in pop-up clinics in the capital, including the Gold Creek testing center, the Kambah drive-through site and a testing site in Erindale.MORE COVID-19 NEWS: But the company has also set up more pop-up sites in the throughout the region. “Over the past three months, we have opened small pop-up clinics at the request of ACT Health and NSW Health,” said Mr. Ward. “We have opened drive-through test clinics to the general population in Goulburn, Yass, Braidwood, Cooma, Jindabyne, Bega, Pambula and Eden.” Demand for testing has declined even as the ACT lockdown has been lifted and further restrictions have been relaxed. The next challenge for pathologists is to get people to sign up for tests they may have left during the COVID period. dr. Gluch said the number of cancer diagnoses had fallen by 25 percent and he urged people to come forward for their routine checkups. Our journalists work hard to provide local, current news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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